Russian missile scientist jailed for 14 years for ‘leaking state secrets’ after closed-door trial

Anatoly Maslov is one of several Russian scientists working on hypersonic missiles to have been charged with treason

In this handout photo taken from video released by the Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, a sailor is on duty aboard the Admiral Gorshkov frigate of the Russian Navy. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)
By Dénes Albert
3 Min Read

Anatoly Maslov, a 77-year-old physicist from Novosibirsk, was sentenced to 14 years in prison for treason by a St. Petersburg court on Tuesday.

Maslov, who holds a doctorate in physics and mathematics, was arrested in the summer of 2022 on suspicion of leaking state secret data on hypersonic devices. According to the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), the physicist passed information on secret scientific developments to German intelligence in 2014. The convicted man denied guilt, while his defense lawyer described the charge as illegal.

The case was heard behind closed doors due to its top-secret classification. As a cumulative punishment, Maslov’s freedom of movement was restricted for a further year and he was banned from access to state secrets for two years. The prosecution had asked for 17 years’ imprisonment. Maslov was a senior researcher at the Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The legal representatives of the convict have expressed concern that their client will not survive the sentence, as he had health problems before his arrest and suffered a heart attack in pre-trial detention in February. Speaking to Kommersant newspaper, they said that the physicist was not receiving proper care and that prison doctors would not allow him to receive medication.

The RBK newspaper recalled that several scientists from the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences were prosecuted on charges of treason. In the summer of 2022, Dmitry Kolker, head of the Quantum Optical Technologies Laboratory at the Department of Physics of Novosibirsk State University, was detained for leaking state secret information to China. Kolker died in custody.

Later, Alexander Siplyuk, director of the Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and Vladislav Galkin, an employee of the Khristianovich Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, were arrested.

In St. Petersburg in April this year, Alexander Kuranov, former CEO and chief designer of the Scientific Research Institute of Hypersonic Systems (NIPGSZ) was sentenced to seven years in prison for treason. According to the Riga-based Russian opposition news portal Meduza, at least 12 scientists have been charged with treason in Russia since 2018, including those working in the field of hypersonics.

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